Fathom is Dead, Cruises to Cuba Aren’t

It’s official: Fathom is dead. Carnival Corporation announced that it will be transferring the 704-guest Adonia back to P&O Cruises UK in the summer of 2017. But while the news spells the end for Carnival’s short-lived “voluntourism” cruise line, it doesn’t spell the end of Fathom’s social impact experiences – nor does it mean the end of Cuban cruises targeting American guests.

Classic cars race along the streets of Havana, Cuba. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Classic cars race along the streets of Havana, Cuba. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Carnival Corporation revealed it has applied to the Cuban government for permission to operate cruises to Cuba with its existing brands. Some sites have speculated that Carnival Cruise Line’s Fantasy Class ships might be used, but it’s more likely that smaller vessels would be better-suited to Cuban ports of call at this moment, the vast majority of which lack the facilities to dock ships much bigger than Fathom’s Adonia.

The jury is out as to whether Fathom was a hit or a miss, with past and prospective guests filing in on both sides of the fence. Fathom sailings will continue to operate through early next year, but Carnival Corporation plans to roll socially-minded excursions developed for Fathom into its existing brands next year, thus keeping its “social impact” drive alive.

Fathom was far from the first cruise line to offer voyages to Cuba; sailings on international cruise lines have been available to guests from Canada, Europe and abroad for decades now. But it did make a noteworthy impact in being one of the first cruise lines to offer voyages to Cuba that were primarily marketed at passengers from the United States.

That torch is being carried on by Carnival Corporation and plenty of other cruise lines, as we’ve outlined in our table below. We’ve left Fathom here, for now, and will remove it from the table once the line operates its last official sailing sometime next year.

Who Sails to Cuba?

Celestyal Cruises, also known as Cuba CruiseCelestyal CrystalYes; sailings began in late 2013.Already in operation; sailings operate year-round beginning in late 2016.Havana, Cuba or Montego Bay, Jamaica
Fathom*Adonia*Fathom will cease operations in June 2017.Miami
Lindblad ExpeditionsPanorama IIYesDecember 7, 2016Havana or Cienfuegos, Cuba
Pearl Seas CruisesPearl MistNoOctober 26, 2016Miami
PonantLe PonantYes; "People-to-People" voyage.January 2017Havana
Royal CaribbeanEmpress of the SeasNoTBAMiami (likely)
Star ClippersStar FlyerYesDecember 27, 2016Havana or Cienfuegos, Cuba (12/27 departure begins in St. Maarten).
Victory Cruise LinesVictory IPendingOctober 28, 2016Port Canaveral (inaugural); Miami.
Viking Ocean CruisesViking SunYesDecember 1, 2017Miami

What do you think – was Fathom a hit or a miss? Let us know by using the comment form below

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